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Comcast may force us to rethink the definition of “cord-cutting”

Comcast may force us to rethink the definition of “cord-cutting”
[Photo: anilyanik/iStock]

Philly cable giant Comcast reported its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings today, and if things keep going the way they’re going, we may need to rethink what we mean when we talk about pay television’s cord-cutting crisis. While the company has been shedding traditional pay-TV customers, it’s been making up for those losses in droves with new subscribers for its high-speed internet service.

For the fourth quarter, Comcast said it lost 33,000 traditional pay-TV subscribers while gaining an impressive 350,000 high-speed internet customers. All told, the company ended the quarter with a net increase of 243,000 new customers. For the full year, that number was up by 777,000 customers.

Comcast further boasted that it has signed up more than 1 million high-speed internet customers for 12 consecutive years. In other words, a lot of cord-cutters still need that cable cord–even if they’d rather watch Netflix than channel surf through an old-fashion cable TV lineup.

Granted, the economics are different for pay television than they are for internet subscribers, and Comcast is losing valuable revenue streams as its traditional cable footprint shrinks, but the overall trend line is not looking so bad. The company said its consolidated revenue was up 5.1% for the year, while net income jumped 161%. Meanwhile, earnings per share were up 18.4% to $2.06, Comcast said.

Those are pretty good numbers, especially for a company whose core business is in decline. Check out the full report here.CZ